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To Olive or to Vinegar…

Hey everyone!

I am taking a break from beer today to discuss a new cooking shop find, courtesy of my friend Mary. We went a long period of time without seeing each other so, as friends, decided to remedy that last night. We also decided to get productive for her pre-wedding craft preparations.

 

Please Note: Mary has 2 cats who are adorable but insane (as cats are prone to being). 😉 Love you Dom & Bob!!!! So she needed someone there who they are timid around so we could actually get the crafts done without them becoming cat toys!

So I agree to bring a bottle of wine and Mary says she’ll feed me for helping her out. Because I really need incentive to a) see my friend, or b) be crafty. Hah! Again, I say HA! 😉

So without spoiling the craft ideas that she came up with for her centerpieces, which we put together, let me just say that the stuff she found at Hobby Lobby is freaking perfect for her. They are doing a Rockabilly/Rocker style wedding, and not so surprisingly Hobby Lobby had a slew of great stuff for this color and pattern wise. So we had fun doing that. But no pictures or more details until later… 😛 Nice try, though friends.

No, this entry is about food. Yummy delicious food. And a new take-all-my-money-and-give-me-yummies website that I found. In her travels, Mary found this GREAT shop in Santa Cruz, California, called The True Olive Connection. I. Am. In. Love. And so is my tummy.

So Mary made a delicious chicken, melt-on-your-tongue delicious chicken. To accompany this chicken, she steamed cauliflower and topped it with a bit of Brummel & Brown’s Yogurt Spread. Delicious again.

Then she poured some Serrano Honey Vinegar into a saucepan and sautéed some spinach. This added a bit of a zing to the spinach that was tempered by the sweet. It wasn’t too sweet, and it wasn’t too spicy – it was a perfect subtle balance of flavor. And delicious again.

Then we had the toasted bread and dipping sauce. You’ve seen many Italian restaurants (large and small) doing this – you combine olive oil with spices and sometimes balsamic vinegar, swirl it all together, and voilà – a dipping sauce that is heart healthy. This is even better. This is a dipping sauce to write home about. Truly. I did, twice, today.

Combine the following in a dish that has a lip around the edge – or a bowl: a few spoon-fulls of Blood Orange Olive Oil and half that amount of Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar. Taste this and make sure you are sitting down. You will have a moment, I promise you. It’s like dessert but not. It’s bread with all the flavors of dessert and none of the calories of adding it in. It is heart healthy ambrosia. It is delicious. Oh, and I dipped my chicken in this wondrous concoction also – heaven! I love my dessert, but I didn’t need any after this. Just a nap. 🙂

To go with this awesomeness, I brought a 2009 3 Muses California Merlot (we had an accidental theme going here for Cali!), which was very yummy, slightly fruity with undertones of chocolate.

So yes this is Mary, not me, who is creating this wonderfulness, however we both love to cook. So when Mary saw my face, she had to show me the store name, and add in that they ship. So there goes part of a pay check, haha!

I am placing this order this week, and I plan to experiment weekly with these wonders – and have no fear, I will keep you in the loop on them! 😉
Medium Bottle Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
Medium Bottle Blood Orange Olive Oil
Medium Bottle Serrano Honey Vinegar
Sample Bottle Cranberry Pear Balsamic Vinegar (1/6)
Sample Bottle Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinegar (2/6)
Sample Bottle Black Cherry Balsamic Vinegar (3/6)
Sample Bottle Chipotle Olive Oil (4/6)
Sample Bottle Cilantro & Roasted Onion Olive Oil (5/6)
Sample Bottle Wild Mushroom & Sage Olive Oil (6/6)

I am already imagining different pairings for chicken, pork, turkey and ham for these delicious options. So keep watching to see what I come up with. But in the meantime, check out this little shop in Santa Cruz and see what you can think of to try. Let me know if you come up with any good concoctions!

Craft you later,
Beth

Wednesday Beer Log – Feb 22

Hello My Fellow Beer Fans!

I have been slack this last week as I’ve been out of town, so apologies on the delay. However last night, Wednesday Feb 22, I went with the Charlotte Beer Babes to the Noda Brewery for a Beer Tour and tasting. Okay, fine, I chose to do a tasting, whereas everyone else chose to drink full beers to their taste! 😉

So first up a bit about the brewery. Noda Brewery is located on Davidson St, just west of the Noda area. This brewery specializes in the large-selection, small-production craft beers. Their head brewer regaled us with tales of how the Coco Loco beer came to be, and their attempts to get their first beers out the door. The owners are a ‘mom and pop’ pair, Todd & Suzie, and their 3 ‘doorbell’ dogs, who wanted to get into craft brewing, and the entire staff is friendly, knowledgeable and fun.

Next up, the brewery tour. Our guide is head brewer Chad, who took us through the entire beer-brewing process from start to finish. Here are a few pictures:

Chad starting the tour of Noda Brewery

Beer Babes on the tour of Noda Brewery

Where the Wort Happens!

Hot Water Filtering

Fermenting Beer

Chad explaining the 'cute little pot' to the Babes

Tracie & Charlotte Beer Babes enjoying the Noda Brewery Tour

Okay, now onto the beer. I did a beer flight sampler of 4 of the beers available this week at Noda Brewery: 10 Blocks South, Coco Loco, Midnight Madness and Ramble on Red.

Noda Beer Flight


Isn’t that beer flight just pretty? I love the flight holder – nice piece of sturdy wood to provide protection for your beers as you travel back to your seat from the bar!

Aerial View of the Noda Beer Flight


Now onto the beer reviews. From Left-to-Right in the picture, in order below:
1) 10 Blocks South: Xtra Pale Ale, 15 SRM (beer color), 56 IBU (bitterness scale), and 5.5% ABV (alcohol by volume). I found this a nice, light, somewhat hoppy, slightly citrusy beer. Really good balance of flavors of hops and citrus.
2) Coco Loco: Chocolate Coconut Porter, 32 SRm, 43 IBU, 6.3% ABV. I found this a really nice, chocolately porter that had a nice undertone of toasted coconut, and balanced nicely with the chocolate flavors.
3) Midnight Madness: Cascadian Dark Ale, 39 SRM, 71 IBU, 6.75% ABV. I found this a very thick ale, with a light hint of toasted-coffee flavor in the aftertaste, and to quote Tracie, had a “toasty, roasty flavor” to it! 😉
4) Ramble On Red: American Amber Ale, 15 SRM, 28 IBU, 5.2% ABV. I had a hard to identifying the exact flavors, as this was the last beer I tried and I didn’t have a water (I am special like that) to cleanse my palate. However I definitely liked the caramel flavoring on this light amber ale, and it had a good afertaste to it. I guess I need to go back and try this one again, huh?!? 😉

To finish out, here is a wonderful invention a local baker has created for the Noda Brewing Customers: A cupcake made with Coco Loco!!!

Local Baker makes Coco Loco Cupcakes!!!

Enjoy this, let me know what you think of these beers, or Noda in general, and hope to ‘see’ you all next time!

Upcoming events for Charlotte Beer Babes at Dilworth Billiards on Feb 29 at 6:30pm put on by Tryon Distributing (craft beer tasting); and at Whisky Warehouse on March 7 at 7pm put on by Big Boss Brewery (a Beer Tasting Dinner). Hope to see you Beer Babes & friends out there!

Craft You Later,
Beth

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